Hannah Bukzin is a busy girl.
When she’s not volunteering as an EMT or interning with a catering company, the rising Staples sophomore can be found cooking. Her style is “classic dishes with a modern twist.” Her favorite creation is hanger steak marinated with chimichurri sauce, and a side of roasted potatoes.
But in April, Hannah found time to head to the Food Network studios in New York. There, she spent a full day filming a segment for “Chopped Teen Tournament.” The show airs Tuesday, July 29 (10 p.m.).
What makes her story particularly noteworthy — besides the fact that she is a local girl who may or may not make good (Hannah is sworn to secrecy) — is that she’s completely self-taught.
Hannah has been interested in cooking ever since age 6, when she saw her first – surprise! — Food Network show. The mystery and variety of ingredients drew her in.
Almost a decade later, she applied to the “Chopped” teen show. After interviews, a camera crew came to film her at EMS headquarters — and watch her cook. (That dish was pan-roasted bronzino with quinoa salad.)
She made the cut, and joined 15 other teenagers. They competed in 3 30-minute rounds, creating dishes with 4 ingredients that (a press release says) “could stump even top professionals.”
Did I mention that Hannah was the only one of the 16 who does not attend a culinary program in a specialized high school? In fact, she has not even taken one of Staples’ highly regarded culinary classes yet.
“Everything I know is in my head,” she says.
But like any well-trained cook, Hannah knew she had to prepare. A chef friend of her parents trained her, using his own “mystery ingredients.” She is “not much of a baker,” Hannah says, so she practiced a few desserts just in case.
Filming took an entire, long day. As in any kitchen, there were surprises — and not just at the stove.
“I was amazed that the judges judged us like we were adults,” Hannah reports. “They told us the truth as if we were 30 or 40 years old, not 14 to 17.”
But in some ways, Hannah is closer to 30 or 40 than 15.
As soon as our interview was over, she was out the door.
Work beckoned. The catering company she’s interning with had a wedding.
On the Vineyard.